Plokštinė was an underground missile base of the Soviet Union. This is the first nuclear missile base of the Soviet Union, an underground R-12 Dvinaballistic medium-range missile base. In 2012, the Cold War Museum was opened at the site.
At the time when the United States started building underground military bases, it was decided that the Soviet Union had to maintain its military advantage. Therefore, in September 1960, the Soviets started rapid construction of an underground military base, one of the first in the Soviet Union, near the village of Plokščiai. The chosen location was 160 metres above sea level and it could cover all of Europe, including Turkey and southern European countries. In 1960, more than 10,000 Soviet soldiers started secret works in the Žemaitija National Park that took two years. The costs of construction were comparable to the costs of building a city district or a small town.
The base was one of the top Soviet military secrets that was revealed by U.S. reconnaissance only in 1978. The base boasted of a network of tunnels and included four deep shafts that have a depth between 27 to 34 meters. They were covered by the concrete domes that could be moved aside on rails in 30 minutes. The base could stay autonomous for 15 days, or for 3 hours if also hermetically sealed. The surrounding electric fence was normally connected to 220 V, with a possibility to raise the voltage to 1700 in case of alert. The active team consisted of about 300 people, most of them military guards.
The base included four silos that housed R-12 Dvina missiles with nuclear warheads. These missiles were propelled using a medium-range liquid. They weighed more than 40 tones, including 1,500-kilogram warhead. These surface-to-surface missiles had a radius of a little less than 2,500 kilometres. No missiles, even for tests, were launched from the base.
After twelve years of operations, the site was shut down. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the site has been abandoned and not maintained. It has been visited by urban explorers, also suffered from numerous metal thefts. After the reconstruction in 2012, the former base site now hosts the Cold War Museum, opening one of the four existing silos for visitors.References:
Augustusburg Palace represents one of the first examples of Rococo creations in Germany. For the Cologne elector and archbishop Clemens August of the House of Wittelsbach it was the favourite residence. In 1725 the Westphalian architect Johann Conrad Schlaun was commissioned by Clemens August to begin the construction of the palace on the ruins of a medieval moated castle.
In 1728, the Bavarian court architect François de Cuvilliés took over and made the palace into one of the most glorious residences of its time. Until its completion in 1768, numerous outstanding artists of European renown contributed to its beauty. A prime example of the calibre of artists employed here is Balthasar Neumann, who created the design for the magnificent staircase, an enchanting creation full of dynamism and elegance. The magical interplay of architecture, sculpture, painting and garden design made the Brühl Palaces a masterpiece of German Rococo.
UNESCO honoured history and present of the Rococo Palaces by inscribing Augustusburg Palace – together with Falkenlust Palace and their extensive gardens – on the World Heritage List in 1984. From 1949 onwards, Augustusburg Palace was used for representative purposes by the German Federal President and the Federal Government for many decades.
In 1728, Dominique Girard designed the palace gardens according to French models. Owing to constant renovation and care, it is today one of the most authentic examples of 18th century garden design in Europe. Next to the Baroque gardens, Peter Joseph Lenné redesigned the forested areas based on English landscaping models. Today it is a wonderful place to have a walk.